Ex English African art collection. This African mask was estimated to be auctioned at 750 euros. From a conical base in braided basketry rises a wooden head sheathed with animal skin, antelope generally, ideal for feminine beauty in the Ejagham. This extravagant hairstyle consisting of four growths in volutes, also lined with leather, would represent the hair extensions of the girls at the end of their period of initiation. The hollowed-out mouth has teeth. The whole thing was oil-slaped, velbling the brown patina. Stretched eyelids open onto bleached globes. The dancer's costume consisted of a large lattice of raffia ropes, and more recently, cotton fabric. The masks were coated with palm oil before use, and placed in daylight so that the leather would soften and adopt a satisfying luster. Leopard societies, such as the male society Kpe, Ngbe among the Aro, used this crest model for initiation ceremonies or funerals of association members, but also during agricultural rituals. The hairstyle would represent that of young women after their traditional confinements during which the dance Nkim was taught to them. Other dance groups, such as the Ikem , still wore these masks in the 2000s. (Nigerian Arts Revisited, N. Barley) (Arts of Nigeria, 5Continents, A.Lebas) (U.0022Africa", Ed. Prestel, T. Phillips)
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